Good Planning is the Key to a Successful Trip
In general, the Philippines is a friendly and safe country to visit. With the rapid growth of the BPO industry, the country infrastructure and amenities have increased substantially. To help you enjoy and get the most out of your trip, we've compiled a list of helpful tips to remember while visiting the Philippines.
If you are connecting in Tokyo Narita, the airport can be a little tricky. Generally, there are many BPO employees and clients on these flights, so you should be able to move with the pack. The airport is easy to navigate. Just look for the international connections. English is not a common language spoken in Japan, so be prepared for a lot of smiles and gestures.
When you arrive, you will go directly to customs, the retrieve your checked bags if necessary. When you leave the airport, walk across the street, and meet your driver at the small building for the Peninsula Manila Hotel.
When you depart the airport, it can be a bit congested depending on the time of day. Locals say that arriving 2-3 hours is too early, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If you have booked business class, make sure you find the line for business class as the coach lines may look dreadfully long. Be sure you look for separate lines in order to make your flight on time.
The airport charges a $750 PHP peso departure tax (roughly $15 U.S.). They will take PHP pesos or U.S. dollars. Although they advertise that they take credit cards, it is common for the machine to be broken, so be prepared with cash.
There are business class lounges for most of the airlines. Keep in mind that you will do a secondary security screening just prior to boarding your plane, so it's best to be at the gate when they start boarding.
We recommend that you use transportation provided by either your hotel or the suppliers that you are visiting. Taxi service is not always reliable, so plan ahead to avoid the inconvenience. The area around major hotels in Manila, including the Peninsula Hotel, a frequent first stop for iQor visitors, is safe, our rule of thumb is o stay together while traveling in unfamiliar areas.
We recommend registering with the U.S. Embassy online prior to departure. Consider registering every time you travel abroad, just to be safe. Try not to wear a lot of expensive jewelry. While no one on the iQor team has had problems, it is always smart to remain low key and not attract unnecessary attention.
The hotels all have personal safes in the room. Take advantage of this option during your outings.
Keep an electronic copy of your passport in your mail or with a family member. This way if you lose your passport, you can regain access to the document quickly. To avoid misplacing your passport, carry it with you at all times.
Currency is the Philippine peso. Exchange rates will vary, although credit is accepted in many places. Hotels will exchange money for you , and there are ATMs that you can use at the hotels. Let your credit card company know you are overseas so they don;t shut you down with a suspected fraud.
Be sure to check the weather forecast before your trip, and pack accordingly. The Philippines are known for humid weather, so make sure to bring the appropriate hair gel or cream if you use these products.
Most of th facilities you will visit are quite casual. The Philippine work force is generally business casual. You should be good with either a skirt or top, casual dress or pants. Most of the guys will be in khakis and polo shirt.
Due to the climate, you will find some of the centers you visit are quite chilly. We recommend carrying a light-weight cardigan for the evening visits in case you get cold. The Philippines are not very formal, so unless you hit some night clubs, you probably don't need very dressy clothing.
Shopping in Manila
Greenhills Shopping Center is the market to visit if you want to purchase pearls. be prepared to negotiate on price and get a recommendation from someone local that you can trust (one of your suppliers or the hotel) to find out which vendors are best. They will do custom stringing for you (varied lengths) and they have many different styles. Greenhills is also where they sell a lot of the "fake" designer bags, Be very careful with this as U.S. Customs can catch these purchases. Greenbelt is more of a traditional mall and it's right across the street from the hotel.
There are many great restaurants in metro Manila. The quality of the food is very good. While there, drink bottled water, which the hotel will supply in your room. The breakfast buffets at the Peninsula and the Shangri La are incredible. It's a mixture of traditional U.S. foods, Asia dishes, sushi and Indian cuisine. You really should try it while you are there, even though your internal clock might be off a bit.
Filipinos are very friendly. They love Americans and will go above and beyond to please you at the hotel and other places you go. If you learn a few words in Tagalog, they wil be very excited. Even if it is just saying "Salamat" (thank you). Around 90% of the people you will meet speak English. Sometimes you may be asked personal questions. Culturally, they are more inclined to ask questions that Americans might consider too personal for a first meeting.
It is also not uncommon to be greeted by hotel staff as both ma'am or sir. It is a small formality commonly lost in translation from Tagalog to English. The younger Filipinos are very fun loving and enjoy singing and dancing. It's not uncommon to hear hotel staff performing in the halls. We encourage you to get to know the culture. It's an amazing country filled with spectacular people. Take this opportunity to network and build string relationships with the locals. It's amazing how many connections you can make during business travel.
Learn more about iQor's Philippines here.
We hope you will use this information as a tentative guide to travel while abroad in the Philippines. We wish you safe, happy and productive travels in your future ventures.